Pre-stay communication was great. It was an easy walk from the train station. We arrived late, and I should have called ahead, but the manager was gracious. The 2nd and 3rd floors are hostel; the first floor has five hotel rooms sharing two bathrooms - one is very large. As we were there off-season, we were the only ones staying in the hotel part. The window in our room opened to a courtyard, and could not be locked (busted hardware). But as it opened to a private courtyard and we didn't have valuables, I didn't sweat it. The room was large and clean, the hallway was clean and well-lit and had what looked like southwestern US rugs. The bath was huge and, as I said, we had the place to ourselves.
There's a great restaurant right at the corner to the right (friendly folks, great food) and in the morning, go left, and go left again at the corner and a little ways up on the right is a great non-touristy cafe bar. Try the chocolate coffee.
Unique Quality: Very friendly manager, great location a little removed from the tourists.
Directions: Leave the train station, go up Via Nazionale, turn left at Via Guelfa, go down to #59 on the right and ring the bell.
Locanda Starlight is a small hostel that is more like a cheap motel as there are no "hostel facilities" available for guest use. There is no common room so there is very little interaction between guests. The only common space is a computer room that doubles as a kitchen and a laundry room (more on that in a minute) that guests are allowed to use when the owner is not busy. Rooms are decently sized and very clean.
We arrived into Florence and were told that we could use the small kitchen to cook our food. This was a necessity for us as food in Florence is relatively expensive and going to see museums runs about 10 euros each. The next day, we woke up early and visited the farmers market to pick up fresh food for our stay. When we got back to the hostel with about 15 euros of fresh food, the manager told us that we could not use the kitchen because someone else left the gas on overnight.
The hostel is nice enough, but it is unacceptable that they have kitchen and laundry facilities present that they dont allow guests to use. Laundry down the street costs 7 euros and restaurants are priced high for tourists. Overall, you are paying some 30 euros for a crappy bed in a nice location, but it means that you will have to eat all your meals out and pay to do your laundry at a laundromat.
Overall, I do not recommend this hostel. Florence offers a wealth of different places to stay on the cheap and it is entirely unacceptable to bar backpackers from using the kitchen. For the 30 euros that Locanda charges, you could easily find a better place if you book ahead of time.
Directions: Good location very close to Santa Maria Novella and the Duomo. Just around the corner from the railroad tracks.
Locanda Starlight was by no means lavish accommodation, however the place had a really happy vibe. The owner, Reghina has painted each of the rooms with a different theme, and the rooms were bright and felt clean.
Clean bedding was provided, as were towels. There was a sink in each room, with shared shower and toilet facilities.
I would definitely recommend this place to others to stay, even if it was just to get Reghina's list of recommended places to eat (they were fantastic).
Unique Quality: Each room was painted with a different theme. I stayed in a room with a giant sun on the wall above the bed, and it was so cheery to wake up to. The rooms really seemed to have that personal touch, not fancy, more homey.
Directions: Near the markets.
We stayed here for one night, to get accomodation in the Archi Rossi early the next morning. It was 22 euros for a dorm bed (we got a 4-bed room, with real beds, not bunk!), including showers and sheets but not breakfast. The owner is lovely and everything was fine, but the Archi Rossi is just better! This is a great option for Florence though.
Unique Quality: The handwritten fliers the owner gives out, detailing good local eateries.
Directions: in the hostel area, east of Santa Maria Novella (north of the duomo) - ring the buzzer for Starlight, there isn't an obvious sign!
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